Maybe Phoebe Didn’t Help Benjamin Adams
Image: The Old Brewery, Five Points
In my December 5 post, I asked, “did famous revivalist Phoebe Palmer have a hand in Adams’ appointment to the Hedding Mission in New York’s Five Points?” I suggested that such a thing was possible, based on timing that goes something like this:
However, as compelling as the information may have seemed at the time, I left the door open, noting that “it is also possible that she [Palmer] suggested another minister to the two bishops at her little dinner party and that he served until July 1853, at which time Adams became the new missionary.”
While doing a little online research the other day, I came across a note in a blog. It stated that Lewis Pease “was succeeded by Rev. J Luckey a replacement selected by the Ladies Home Missionary Society.” (Pentecost)
My next stop was to find the minutes of the New York Annual Conference for 1852. Fortunately for me, they easy to find, as they were contained in a larger volume of the minutes of all conferences held in the Methodist Episcopal Church during the years 1852-1855.
I located an online copy of the book, scrolled down to the 1852 volume, and then further down to the information for the New York Annual Conference, and finally to the statistics for the New York District. And there it was. The the pastoral appointment to Five Points Mission was indeed John Luckey.
Image: The Five Points Mission, Hedding Methodist Episcopal Church
My hedge was correct. The candidate of Palmer’s choice (and by extension, the choice of the Ladies Home Missionary Society with whom she was closely aligned) was the Rev. John Luckey.
And mystery solved!
My next post, scheduled for Monday, will settle (in my mind, at least) whether the camp meeting Adams attended on Cape Cod was the one in Eastham. For some reason I thought Adams had written that he had “taken the cars to Eastham.” But I misremembered his entry. My notes from his journal reveal that he took the train (cars) to Boston and then took a boat to Cape Cod.
I love research! It is very much like solving a mystery. Even though no one else may give “two dead flies” (as my Dad used to say) about one’s subject matter, it’s all good because it matters to you. The glory of having a Ph.D. and being a history geek is that I have the tools to dig up all sorts of interesting stories. And since I just happen to write historical fiction, I never know when I might fictionalize something I have learned – something that, in turn, just might spark someone else’s interest in history.
But I'd love to write a non-fiction book about Benjamin Adams. He exhibits a genuine desire to be "sanctified," or to live a life that is pleasing to God. To that effect, his early years are ripe with spiritual struggle. This is followed by a desire to share the power and love of Christ by entering pastoral ministry, attending and preaching at numerous camp meetings, and eventually being a minor player in the establishment of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting in New Jersey. Yet, in counterbalance to what many of us might call his extreme piety, the journal entries written in his older years also contain whimsical little drawings. What comes across to me is a picture of a real human being who had been called into ministry. I have yet to dig fully into the entries written during his time at the Five Points mission, but what I have seen tells me that it was a difficult experience for him. Interestingly, his mission journal is written in the form of vignettes, rather than his usual brief jotting down of duties, events, and impressions.
When I was in the planning stages of my dissertation, I floated the idea of doing focusing on Adams to my adviser, but he re-directed me to work within the my vocational field: Christian education (or faith formation or spiritual development, as it is known today). My dissertation is on the Vacation Bible School Movement within the peninsula area of Virginia, from Richmond to Virginia Beach, during the late 1800s to 1960.
We'll see where this all goes.
Later, dear readers.
Neil Pentecost, “New York City Looking Back: The Old Brewery,” 11 April 2011
Minutes of the Annual Conferences of the Methodist Episcopal Church for the Years 1851-1855, Volume 5. (New York: Carlton & Porter, ), Minutes for 1855, p. 41.
Comments are closed.
Janet Stafford, Squeaking Pips Founder